Created By: CaveCat on May 25, 2013 Last Edited By: CaveCat on June 26, 2013
Nuked

Metaphorical Insult

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Trope
Of all the insults in all of the world, whether you're exchanging insults with a friend, letting them know that they're boring, trying to insult someone only for them to take it as a compliment, or telling them "You Fight Like a Cow", there's this insult, the Metaphorical Insult.

The Metaphorical Insult is where a character insults another, using a metaphor, such as "Go jump in a lake". Sometimes, if the character that is being insulted is Literal-Minded, expect hilarity to ensue as he takes the insult literally and actually jump into a lake. And why should I go into more details? Go jump in a lake!

Compare: Boring Insult, Insult Misfire, Lame Comeback, Flowery Insults


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • In the Ranma OVA episode "Desperately Seeking Shampoo", Ranma tries to get Shampoo to laugh by telling her a joke. Shampoo says that if Ranma wants to make her smile he should "go jump in [a] cursed spring". What Ranma doesn't know is that Shampoo is wearing a cursed brooch that turns her usual affection for him into bitter hatred.

Film
  • In The Little Rascals 1933 short "Mush and Milk", Dickie and Stymie get Spanky to stop disrupting their chores by telling him to "sit on an egg". Spanky then finds a hen's nest and does just that.
  • Sort of related, in the film version of The Manchurian Candidate, when the bartender is telling the story that accidentally triggers Sgt. Shaw's hypnosis, the bartender recounts how he told his son-in-law, "Go take a taxi, drive to Central Park, and jump in a lake". Shaw takes this as an order, and follows the instructions.

Newspaper Comics
  • A Garfield strip had a spider tell another to "Go bite a black widow", after said spider gets swatted by Garfield.

Live-Action TV
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "Something Blue" Willow, unknowingly suffering from Power Incontinence, says that Giles "can't see anything" and he becomes blind; also:
    Willow: (talking to Xander) Spike's more important than me. I get it.
    Xander: Buffy's gotta find out what's up with those commandos. Right now she needs Spike.
    Willow: Well, fine. Why doesn't she just go marry him?
    Buffy: It's just so sudden. I don't know what to say.
    Spike: Just say yes, and make me the happiest man on earth.
    Buffy: Oh, Spike! Of course it's yes!
  • Lorne suffered similar problems on Angel, telling Gunn to "mark his territory" which makes him compusively piss on things, made Spike be happy by telling him to think positively, and Angel & Eve to "get a room" which makes them have sex with each other - and they don't even like each other.
  • In From the Earth to the Moon, one geologist working with the Apollo 15 mission shouts "You wouldn't know a regolithic basalt if it fell on your head!" during an argument with a NASA official.

Western Animation
  • In the Porky Pig cartoon "Paying the Piper", a cat who's agonizing Porky gives him a series of these ("Ah, your sister smokes cornsilk!" "Ah, your brother blows bubble gum!"). At one point, Porky wonders how the cat knows so much about his family. In the end the cat gets his comeuppance and Porky returns with a methaphoric insult of his own.
  • On one Screwy Squirrel cartoon, Screwy tells the dog to go lay an egg. The dog leaves for a moment and returns with an egg.
  • Literal-Minded version referenced in a Treehouse of Horror episode of The Simpsons where kids are being killed & eaten by the school faculty.
    Skinner: I'm going to enjoy devouring you, Bart Simpson. Yes... I believe I'll start as you've so often suggested by eating your shorts...


Needs More Examples
Community Feedback Replies: 18
  • May 29, 2013
    CaveCat
    Doesn't anyone have any examples? ;_;
  • May 30, 2013
    CaveCat
    Anyone? At all?
  • May 31, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    Anime and Manga
    • In the Ranma One Half OVA episode "Desperately Seeking Shampoo", Ranma tries to get Shampoo to laugh by telling her a joke. Shampoo says that if Ranma wants to make her smile he should "go jump in [a] cursed spring". What Ranma doesn't know is that Shampoo is wearing a cursed brooch that turns her usual affection for him into bitter hatred.

    Live Action Television
    • In The Little Rascals 1933 short "Mush and Milk", Dickie and Stymie get Spanky to stop disrupting their chores by telling him to "sit on an egg". Spanky then finds a hen's nest and does just that.
  • June 1, 2013
    randomsurfer
    • Buffy The Vampire Slayer: In "Something Blue" Willow, unknowingly suffering from Power Incontinence, says that Giles "can't see anything" and he becomes blind; also:
      Willow: (talking to Xander) Spike's more important than me. I get it.
      Xander: Buffy's gotta find out what's up with those commandos. Right now she needs Spike.
      Willow: Well, fine. Why doesn't she just go marry him?
      Buffy: It's just so sudden. I don't know what to say.
      Spike: Just say yes, and make me the happiest man on earth.
      Buffy: Oh, Spike! Of course it's yes!
    • Lorne suffered similar problems on Angel, telling Gunn to "mark his territory" which makes him compusively piss on things, made Spike be happy by telling him to think positively, and Angel & Eve to "get a room" which makes them have sex with each other - and they don't even like each other.
  • June 4, 2013
    Arivne
    Maybe some more metaphorical insults would help.

    • "Go take a long walk off a short pier!"
    • "Go to Hell!"
    • "Tell it to the Marines!"
    • "Your mother wears combat boots!"
  • June 4, 2013
    randomsurfer
    The Little Rascals is Film not TV.
  • June 7, 2013
    TonyG
    • In the Porky Pig cartoon "Paying the Piper", a cat who's agonizing Porky gives him a series of these ("Ah, your sister smokes cornsilk!" "Ah, your brother blows bubble gum!"). At one point, Porky wonders how the cat knows so much about his family. In the end the cat gets his comeuppance and Porky returns with a methaphoric insult of his own.
    • On one Screwy Squirrel cartoon, Screwy tells the dog to go lay an egg. The dog leaves for a moment and returns with an egg.
  • June 7, 2013
    eowynjedi
    • In From The Earth To The Moon, one geologist working with the Apollo 15 mission shouts "You wouldn't know a regolithic basalt if it fell on your head!" during an argument with a NASA official.
  • June 8, 2013
    MetaFour
    You can probably find a bunch more examples on Flowery Insults.
  • June 10, 2013
    XFllo
    But this is so common... I know No Trope Is Too Common, but is there a story-telling purpose? Otherwise it's People Sit On Chairs.

    All insults are metaphorical in a way. Even "You're an idiot" is metaphorical because usually you don't mean that said idiot has so low IQ that he would be deemed an idiot as was the original term in medical/psychological context for people who cannot take care of themselves.

    As is most language, actually, to the degree we don't realize it. Words have usually a literal meaning and several metaphorical. E.g. "head" -- in a phrase "a human head" it's literal; while in "the head of the department" it's metaphorical. "I broke up a vase" -- literal x "We broke up." -- metaphorical.

    I just don't see this as tropeworthy.

    Perhaps the case when it's taken literally, but that would probably be covered by Literal Minded. However, you may try it as Metaphorical Insult Taken Literally or something. Metaphorical Insult on its own is Not A Trope I think.
  • June 12, 2013
    XFllo
    Any reaction to my linguistic rant? :-D
  • June 12, 2013
    CaveCat
    ^Say what you want, I'm keeping this one up.
  • June 12, 2013
    Larkmarn
    I'm very much with X Fllo. This... well, is needlessly broad and doesn't really seem to serve a narrative purpose other than just saying "people use metaphors when they use insults." It's very much People Sit On Chairs.

    I do think that someone taking it literally would be tropable, though.
  • June 12, 2013
    XFllo
    Thanks, Larkmarn.

    Cave Cat, I think that was constructive criticism, not shooting it down without a reason. I'm usually the last one to say something is chairs.

    Consider your examples in the real life folder. All are Zero Context Example, because there is probably nothing interesting to say without over-analyzing them. Will you explain every insult and swear word? Like "Go to hell" doesn't mean literally that you want your conversation partner to go to hell and say hi to devils, but you mean to evoke ideas of damnation and fear in them, because religious swearing was most offending and serious in the past, but now that's better that to say "go f_ck yourself"?

    By the way, there is a wonderful lecture by Steven Pinker about language from Authors at Google and another one when he spoke at RSA event, both available on youtube. He has wonderful examples of insults, dirty language and swearing, and how that's used. If you insist on listing them, he mentioned several very nice ones. One very imaginative from 15th century was "kiss the c_nt of a cow", and he jokingly spoke about its rather nice alliteration. ;-)

    If you focus on taking insults literally, that might be a trope, though let me repeat that it might be already covered by Literal Minded.
  • June 16, 2013
    Arivne
    As XFllo and Larkmarn noted above, this might work as a trope if it were limited to examples where a character takes the insult literally, either by believing it's true or trying to follow it. In other words, it would be a Sub Trope of Literal Minded.

    Some more insults:
    • Go suck an egg!
    • Bite me!
  • June 16, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Literal Minded version Referenced in a Treehouse Of Horror episode of The Simpsons where kids are being killed & eaten by the school faculty.
    Skinner: I'm going to enjoy devouring you, Bart Simpson. Yes... I believe I'll start as you've so often suggested by eating your shorts...
  • June 24, 2013
    robbulldog
    Sort of related, in the film version of The Manchurian Candidate, when the bartender is telling the story that accidentally triggers Sgt. Shaw's hypnosis, the bartender recounts how he told his son-in-law, "Go take a taxi, drive to Central Park, and jump in a lake". Shaw takes this as an order, and follows the instructions.
  • June 26, 2013
    Madrugada
    I also agree with Xfllo. As it stands, this is not a trope. It's simply a part of language. Tropes have to be more than that, they need to convey extra information to the audience in some way. And (s)he's also correct that the vast majority of insults are not intended to be taken literally.

    I'll add another problem I see,as well: A metaphor is specific figure of speech, where one thing is compared to another without the use of "like" or "as", usually by stating that <a> is or does <b> (Her mouth was a rosebud of pale pink. The trees wept in the cold rain. and so on) Most insults are not metaphors.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=q6zpewi9x8fxzzb3d6b8wxpb